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"What if Everyone Had a Garden?"
July 22, 2013
In this blog entry I am addressing the concept, "What if everyone had a garden?"
In today's world, many people have space to grow food but do not grow any. There are many reasons why this is the case. One reason is that the modern American culture encourages people to solve all their needs and wants by buying something at a store. Even gardening itself is often looked upon as going to the store, purchasing a bunch of plants and soil and fertilizers and machinery in order to have a garden. Logically, why not just buy some food at the store then if it's so expensive and labor intensive to make a garden?
Another reason of why people don't have a garden is that it seems it will take up a lot of time and energy to setup and maintain the garden. And yet another reason of why some people don't have a garden is that they live in an apartment or condominium and do not have a yard.
First, if you DON'T have a yard included with the place you live in, start looking for a new place to rent (or buy) that includes a yard AND permission to garden. However, if you don't have a yard where you currently live, chances are there is somewhere nearby that you can garden anyway. The closer to home your garden is the better. First, check to see if your area has already organized a "community garden" project. Many towns and especially larger cities have begun community gardens. In a community garden project, some land that was previously unused for any productive purpose (which every town has!) is chosen by some members of the community and permission is asked for to designate that parcel of land for gardening. The parcel of land does not need to be very large. One single acre or less is a lot of space to grow food. If your community does not have a community garden project already, perhaps you could lead the way in creating one! If you just want a little plot to garden on your own, just ask your landlord or other local property owners who you know have some unused areas of grass that could be turned into a garden.
If you DO have a yard, even if it is 1/8 or 1/16 of an acre, that is all you need to start producing tasty organic foods.
If you don't feel like you have a "green thumb" or much knowledge of gardening, there are many blogs and books that can help you learn. The important thing is to get started and give it a try even if you start with just a dozen plants that you like, planted in planters.
So instead of trying to teach gardening in this article, I just want to de-mystify the idea of keeping a garden and imagine what the world would be like if everyone, or even 50% of American households had a garden.
Most every gardener I know gives away extra vegetables (and herbs) to their neighbors) and to charities, their church, etc. That is because gardening can be so productive, and their own household can only consume so much of the food produced. They also just simply enjoy having something to give away to make others happy, and are proud to show off what they have grown. Because of this, if everyone had a garden and donated (or traded) their produce to neighbors, charities, etc it would greatly reduce poverty and hunger. It would also reduce malnutrition and obesity and increase health and energy. Many families who have a low budget purchase cheap foods at grocery stores. Those cheap foods lack vitamins, protein and quality nutrition. But growing and receiving garden produce (for free or close to it) means they will eat better and tastier foods while ALSO saving money! The money they save can be saved or spent in other ways. Not feeling hungry or stressed about buying food, we can focus on other things.
If everyone had a garden, landscapes would look more attractive.
If everyone had a garden, there would be less pollution in the form of chemical fertilizers, petro-fuel, and pesticides used by massive corporate farms.
If everyone had a garden, water would be conserved and aquifers would be replenished.
If everyone had a garden, people would have more interaction with their neighbors.
If everyone had a garden, more young people would choose a career in farming.
If everyone had a garden, there would be less ticks and mosquitoes where people live.
If everyone had a garden, meals would be happy and full of pride.
If everyone had a garden, our food quality and food prices would not be controlled by multinational corporations.
Quick Tips For Starting A Garden:
1) Plant from seed. Planting from seed is cheaper than purchasing plants from a nursery. Be sure to use heirloom or organic seeds so that after your plants reach maturity, you can collect seeds from them to be used the next year instead of purchasing them again.
2) Avoid purchasing soil, especially in bags. If you need to purchase soil, try to have it delivered with a truck in a large pile somewhere in your yard that you can draw from when you need it. Purchasing a bulk load of soil delivered by a truck is a LOT cheaper per volume of soil. If you a forested area, collect soil from under the leaves. If it smells good and has a dark/black color it will be good for your garden.
3) Do not use any machinery. Machinery is expensive and not necessary for gardening. There is a machine to be sold for just about every task in gardening, when you could just enjoy some good old fashioned hands-on gardening and save a ton of money (not to mention the noise, repairs, and dangers).
If you have a specific question on starting a garden, feel free to email me and I will do my best to answer!
"Dogs Are Awesome"
July 4, 2013
Having a dog is a great thing for many reasons. I did not have a dog for a long time, and never one of my own until now. Now I see all the benefits. Even though there is work involved, some costs, and possible inconveniences, the benefits are worth it. There are many studies that show that having a dog improves health, happiness, and can help a person live longer. Dogs have been known to save their owners lives in emergencies. Beyond those benefits, dogs can help hunt food, help manage herds of animals, help protect homes, lick wounds, and force a person to get more exercise or at least a higher metabolism. The photos above are of my dog. It is a yellow labrador. I got the dog when it was about 3.5 months old. Now he is almost 11 months old. I would recommend this type of dog to anyone, however there are different dogs for different purposes. This type of dog is a good family dog, but it was bred for hunting and fishing. He actually has webbed feet!
He gets lots of exercise. He is off the leash most of the time. He can run fast and for a long time. He is very loyal, friendly, smart, playful, energetic, and has a great sense of smell and hearing. His instincts are to hunt, retrieve, protect, and just have fun and hang out with his "pack". I hope you enjoy these dog photos. If you have a dog photo you would like to send in please do and perhaps I will post it on the blog!
"First Time With Chickens"
April 4, 2013
Above: Chickens today. Below: The chickens a few short weeks ago.
I finally had a setup just good enough to host chickens, so when I saw a sign while I was shopping for other things at Tractor Supply, I bought 6 chicks. I had to buy 6 according to policy, no less. But that's OK, especially considering they were only 2-3 dollars each. If I had been better prepared and had a better setup, I probably would have gone online and looked for heritage and heirloom breeds, but maybe next time. Within a few days, we bought 2 more rounds of chicks making 18 total.
The simple list of things I have learned so far are that chickens need their few specific things to make them happy. But their list is specific, and is different than other animals I have dealt with. For example, chickens can have their food available to them at all times. But if you do that for a dog, the dog will eat so much that it will make itself sick.
Another abnormal thing for chickens, is that they need something that is NOT food to roll around in their stomachs with their food. Good items are: shavings/crumbs of shells, sand, tiny stone gravel, rock crumbles/dust, dirt, moss, wood. Chickens like to drink their fresh water. These chickens go through a surprising amount of water so remember to keep large wide trays of it and dump them out and start fresh regularly.
-CONTINUE READING "First Time With Chickens"---->
April 3, 2013
Bunnies are fun pets, and very friendly if raised well.
They can even be trained to be partially "free-range". They can live for years. They can give birth to up to a dozen babies in one litter. They can have several litters per year. They like salad greens, grass, clover, alfalfa, grains, and fruits especially apples and bananas. Their fur can range from short to long, but all are soft. There are many fine quality clothing made from rabbit fur, particularly Angora type which grow long furry coats.
"Heating With Wood"
January 20, 2013
Wood is such a satisfying fuel to use to heat a home (or business). Sure, it's not as convenient as turning the thermostat dial on a gas or oil powered heating system. Then again, a ton of work is needed before a consumer is able to turn that dial. A ton of pollution is released as well, and then more pollution whenever that system is running. Pollution is released when harvesting those heating fuels, more on transporting them, more on processing them for use, more in the production of the machinery to burn those fuels, and more again when they are burned to create heat! The machinery to burn gas and oil also requires far more maintenance, repairs, and periodic replacement than does a wood-fired system.
Heating with wood is so much more sustainable and so much simpler. Wood is a renewable resource. Trees grow every year, abundantly. In fact we could say they grow over-abundantly requiring management to produce quality trees for either food or lumber. Trees produce millions of seeds that begin growing automatically with no help every year. Not only that, but trees and branches of trees are left standing dead and dry thus making good firewood in every forest that simply needs to be cut and split and is ready to burn.
Wood is usually found within less than 1 mile of any home in any region that has trees, if not within 100 feet! Even when purchased and delivered, wood comes from within 1-50 miles. Obviously that is not true for oil or gas. Usually that oil or gas comes from far away, as far as Saudi Arabia, 5800 miles by air, more by ship which is of course the only way oil is transported. This doesn't count the fact that it is first taken to a refinery, usually on the Gulf coast, then transported again to New York. If you live in California, add another thousand or two miles.
Here are the 3 most common wood-fired systems used to heat homes and businesses.
-CONTINUE READING "Heating With Wood"---->
April 3, 2013
Buying local generates many benefits, for the businesses we spend our money at, the communities we live in, our country, and of course ourselves.
Of course, in today's world it is difficult to spend money solely on locally produced products and avoid all international corporations that could care less about you, your town or even your country. However, every time we shop locally and sustainably we increase the likelihood that the low-quality foreign-made product dependent on what often amounts to slave labor will instead be made in our area (or at least in our country) and someone will have a job because of it, and it might be our own selves.
But there are many ways to spend money with family-owned businesses. Here are some examples...
-CONTINUE READING "Buying Local"---->
March 31, 2013
Saving seeds is easy to do. You can save money by saving seeds, grow your own select fruits and vegetables (and other plants), and trade seeds with friends. Plus you could be helping to save plants from extinction.
The first thing to remember is that water and fire are about the only thing that will ruin your seeds while you are storing them. As soon as you eat that apple, peach, or pumpkin, put the seeds somewhere where they can begin to dry.
They MUST be exposed to the air, so you can't stuff them in a plastic bag or any other container that encloses the seeds. It is only after the seeds have been completely dried out that you can enclose them. To be considered completely dried, the seeds should be exposed to the air for minimum 1 month, and varies with seeds. Remember that in nature, the fruits fall of the plant, drop on the ground, dry out or are eaten by animals exposing the seeds, and the seeds become cold and winter over. The seeds are appearing dead for months until Spring when they sense the Spring and begin to grow.
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